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Here are some notable books on privacy and security from 2020. To see a more comprehensive list of nonfiction works about privacy and security for all years, Professor Paul Schwartz and I maintain a resource page on Nonfiction Privacy + Security Books.

Frank Pasquale, New Laws of Robotics

From the Financial Times: “Thought-provoking…Explores how we can best try to ensure that robots work for us, rather than against us, and proposes a new set of laws to provide a conceptual framework for our thinking on the subject.”

From Jack Balkin: “In Frank Pasquale’s bold and humane vision of robotics and artificial intelligence, technology transforms our lives for the better. It works with people and for people, instead of imitating or displacing them. It promotes social cooperation rather than ruthless competition. It improves the professions instead of unraveling them. Drawing on examples from health, finance, education, policing, and social media, Pasquale shows how realizing his new laws of robotics will require us to reimagine our economy, our uses of knowledge, and our ways of life.”

Daniel Solove, The EyeMonger

From Woodrow Hartzog:  “Our 9 year old loved this book. It has beautiful illustrations and is fun to read out loud. Most importantly, this book does a really excellent job explaining why our privacy is valuable and why some people might not fully appreciate it. . . . It has beautiful illustrations and is fun to read out loud. Most importantly, this book does a really excellent job explaining why our privacy is valuable and why some people might not fully appreciate it. One of the reasons I’ve been thrilled to work with Daniel Solove over the years is that he is able to clearly convey the importance of privacy to all audiences, and with this book it’s clear that children are no exception. If you’re looking for an enjoyable way to talk about a very important issue or even just a fun story at bedtime, I highly recommend this book.”

Scott Skinner-Thompson, Privacy at the Margins

From Khiara M. Bridges, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law and author of The Poverty of Privacy Rights: “Privacy at the Margins is a tour de force. It reinvigorates our understandings of why privacy ought to be protected by identifying the First Amendment values that privacy rights implicate. It convincingly argues that privacy ought to be protected not simply because invasions of privacy injure dignity, but also because they frequently function to subordinate marginalized individuals and communities. Scott Skinner-Thompson has written a book that will be looked to for generations to come – a major feat in the field of privacy.”

Jill Lepore, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future

From James Gleick, New York Review of Books: “Lepore is a brilliant and prolific historian with an eye for unusual and revealing stories, and this one is a remarkable saga, sometimes comical, sometimes ominous: a “shadow history of the 1960s,” as she writes…. Lepore finds in it a plausible untold origin story for our current panopticon: a world of constant surveillance, if not by the state then by megacorporations that make vast fortunes by predicting and manipulating our behavior―including, most insidiously, our behavior as voters…. It didn’t have to be this way. That is Lepore’s final message: history is not inevitable.”

Barton Gellman, Dark Mirror

From Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times: “Engrossing. . . . Gellman [is] a thorough, exacting reporter . . . a marvelous narrator for this particular story, as he nimbly guides us through complex technical arcana and some stubborn ethical questions. . . . Dark Mirror would be simply pleasurable to read if the story it told didn’t also happen to be frighteningly real.”

Firmin Debrabander, Life After Privacy

From William Egginton, author of The Splintering of the American Mind: “Life After Privacy: Reclaiming Democracy in a Surveillance Society is an eloquent, compelling call for us to rethink our commitment to privacy by understanding its history and uses. Rather than attempting to double down on a possibly doomed principle, DeBrabander argues that what is really needed is more democracy, and specifically a newly energized commitment to a public sphere that requires open, transparent, and meaningful debate. An indispensable book for our times that does what great political philosophy needs to do – make us question what we mean by our most basic concepts.”

Megan Richardson, The Right to Privacy: Origins and Influence of a Nineteenth-Century Idea

From the book description: “Using original and archival material, The Right to Privacy traces the origins and influence of the right to privacy as a social, cultural and legal idea. Richardson argues that this right had emerged as an important legal concept across a number of jurisdictions by the end of the nineteenth century, providing a basis for its recognition as a universal human right in later centuries. This book is a unique contribution to the history of the modern right to privacy. It covers the transition from Georgian to Victorian England, developments in Second Empire France, insights in the lead up to the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB) of 1896, and the experience of a rapidly modernising America around the turn of the twentieth century.”

Linnette Attai, Student Data Privacy: Managing Vendor Relationships

From Laura Pollak, program specialist, Nassau BOCES: “Linnette Attai has once again created a clear and comprehensive student data privacy guide for educators. Her latest book shows how educational agencies can develop positive relationships with software vendors, establish procedures for selecting and vetting software products, and negotiate contracts with privacy in mind. A must read for administrators tasked with purchasing educational software products for their districts and schools.”

Jef Ausloos, The Right to Erasure in EU Data Protection Law

From the book description: “The book explores how data protection law, and data subject rights in particular, enable resisting, breaking down or at the very least critically engaging with these asymmetric relationships. It concludes that despite substantial legal and practical hurdles, the GDPR’s right to erasure does play a meaningful role in furthering the fundamental right to data protection (Art. 8 Charter) in the face of power asymmetries online.”

Colleen Eils, The Politics of Privacy in Contemporary Native, Latinx and Asian American Metafictions

From Channette Romero, author of Activism and the American Novel: Religion and Resistance in Fiction by Women of Color: “This book provides truly insightful and original contributions, including the author’s brilliant attention to the politics of the archive and to the ways in which literature might be used to evade social responsibility by providing readers with a false sense of closure.”

Edited by Bryce Clayton Newell, Tjerk Timan, Bert-Jaap Koops, Surveillance, Privacy and Public Space

From the book description: “Surveillance, Privacy, and Public Space problematizes our traditional understanding of ‘public space’. The chapter authors explore intertwined concepts to develop current privacy theory and frame future scholarly debate on the regulation of surveillance in public spaces. This book also explores alternative understandings of the impacts that modern living and technological progress have on the experience of being in public, as well as the very nature of what public space really is.”

Sarah Brayne, Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion and the Future of Policing

From Paul DiMaggio, Professor of Sociology, New York University: “Predict and Surveil is a breakthrough book, a close-up, ethnographically grounded, examination of how urban police departments are using the power of big data to try to anticipate crime and outflank criminals and how, in so doing, they risk reproducing inequality by embedding results of past discrimination inside opaque algorithms. At a moment when urban policing has come under unprecedented scrutiny, this volume provides indispensable insight into a critical element, big data, that could replace due process with guilt by association–or, if used properly, could help reduce discrimination and open policing to democratic control.”.

Aline Fuke Fachinetti, Privacy and Data Protection in Brazil: A comprehensive and Practical Guide on the LGPD

From the book description: “The Brazilian Data Protection Law (Law No. 13.709 of 2018, Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais), also known as “LGPD” was established in August 2018 to remedy the lack of comprehensive privacy and data protection regulation in Brazil, profoundly changing the landscape on such protection in the country…This book is comprehensive and Practical Guide on the LGPD and includes, as a bonus, the translated version of the LGPD.”

Daniel Solove and Paul Schwartz, EU Data Protection and the GDPR

From the book description: “Developed from the casebook Information Privacy Law, this short paperback contains key cases and materials focusing on privacy issues related to the GDPR and data protection in the European Union. Topics covered include the GDPR, Schrems cases, the right to be forgotten, and international data transfers.”

Harvard Business Review, Customer Data + Privacy

From the book description: “Customer Data and Privacy: The Insights You Need from Harvard Business Review brings you today’s most essential thinking on customer data and privacy to help you understand the tangled interdependencies and complexities of this evolving issue. The lessons in this book will help you develop strategies that allow your company to be a good steward, collecting, using, and storing customer data responsibly.”

Leslie N. Gruis, Privacy, Past, Present and Future

From Deb Krier, Hostess of C-Suite Radio’s The Business Power Hour: “A book every American should read.” From the book description:  “In the United States, many imminent threats during the twentieth century induced heightened government intrusion into the privacy of Americans. The Privacy Act of 1974 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA, 1978) reversed that trend. . . . The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) incorporated many such standards into its Cybersecurity Framework, and is currently developing a Privacy Framework. These standards all contribute to a patchwork of privacy protection which, so far, falls far short of what the U.S. constitutional promise offers and what our public badly needs. Greater privacy protections for U.S. citizens will come as long as Americans remember how democracy and privacy sustain one another, and demonstrate their commitment to them.”

Edited by Elizabeth Harvey, Johannes Hürter, Maiken Umbach, Andreas Wirsching, Privacy Life and Privacy in Nazi Germany

From Peter Fritzsche, University of Illinois and author of An Iron Wind: “An extraordinary, inquisitive, immersing exploration of lives lived in the Third Reich, where the grit of detail and sharpness of insight exposes an entire century that stumbled in war and peace. You will be well-guided by the eloquence of the contributors and unsettled by their conclusions.”

Stuart N. Brotman, Privacy’s Perfect Storm: Digital Policy for the Post-Pandemic Times

From Professor Margaret Hu, Penn State Law and School of International Affairs: “Brotman offers an incisive perspective on data privacy. He provides a consistently thoughtful approach to tech regulation, always considering what policies might best serve the public and our digital society. This is a timely and important book.”

April Falcon Doss, Cyber Privacy: Who Has Your Data and Why You Should Care

From Jeff Kosseff: “April Falcon Doss has provided a vital contribution to our understanding of privacy and cybersecurity. Cyber Privacy provides laymen and experts alike with a rich understanding of the laws and technology that shape our ability to control who accesses our personal information and what they do with it.”

Maria Helen Murphy, Surveillance and the Law

From the book description:  “Though the book maintains that the classic principles of transparency and accountability remain the best means available to limit the arbitrary exercise of government power, it evaluates how these principles could be better realised in order to restore power to the people and to maintain an appropriate balance between government intrusion and the right to privacy.”


Previous Notable Privacy
and Security Book Lists

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2019

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2018

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2017

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2016

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2015

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2014

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2013

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2012

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2011

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2010

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2009

Notable Privacy and Security Books from 2008

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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy and data security training. He also posts at his blog at LinkedIn, which has more than 1 million followers.

Professor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz, of the Privacy + Security Forum an annual event designed for seasoned professionals. 

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